“The Girl Who Came Home. A Novel of the Titanic,” by Hazel Gaynor, Harper Collins, 359 pages.


A debut novel gives us another view of Irish emigrates who came to America. In the late 1800s, the potato famine caused starving people to risk anything.

By 1912, the Irish continued to come to the Land of Opportunity to find a better life. The idea of crossing the Atlantic Ocean on the biggest ship in the world, unsinkable, added more glamour to the adventure. Even the third-class cabins boasted “a hand basin.”

Fourteen friends from the same small parish had notions of their imagined lives of wealth and aspired to the American way of life. Several of the 14 become as familiar to the reader as their next-door neighbors.

The other vessels in the harbor looked like children’s toys alongside the Titanic.

The difficulty for Maggie Murphy was to leave Seamus, with whom she had fallen in love. He couldn’t leave his ill father, but promised to write and follow her someday.

The narrative moves backward and forward from 1912 with White Star Lines’ impressive new ship, Titanic, to 1982, 70 years later to the day.

Grace Butler is blowing out 24 candles on her birthday cake. She has felt compelled to drop out of college and leave her first love, Jimmy, to take care of her newly widowed mother.

First, she had to write a 2,000-word feature story that the editor thought would show him if she could be a success. Despite hours of research finding a topic, she was totally stymied and she gave up the offer of a job as a feature writer at the Chicago Tribune.

Book review

JoAn Watson Martin is an educator.

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